I know I’ve called Bluetooth headset users tools before, but that’s because I’m a jerk and this is the perfect place for me to call people names. I keed, I keed. Just to be clear I think the tools are the ones who keep their headsets on when they’re obviously not going to be getting any calls like on the subway. It’s not cool looking anymore. You don’t look like Robo Cop. Having said that, the Nokia BH-501 Bluetooth headset doesn’t make you a tool or make you look like one. It’s a lightweight device that works with any A2DP compatible phone and sound quality is pretty top notch, but there are a few caveats to consider before picking up a pair, as is the norm.
I’m not fond of wrap around headsets, but the 501s were surprisingly comfortable and secure. The earpads didn’t leave any gaps, which was the first thing I thought would be wrong with them. There are rubber wings that hug the top part of your ear and they really annoyed me, but after a little wear they started to feel fine. You can’t make them any bigger than they are so if you have a big head then you might be out of luck. The 501s are easy to store since the section that wraps behind your head is on a hinge and you can fold them for a more compact and less awkward package. I’m no Audiofile, but sound quality was fairly decent even if the low end was a bit murky. Nokia took a minimalist approach to the 501 with only three buttons for volume up/down and on/off/multi-function.
Being in Manhattan means I have to crank up the volume to clearly hear Hannah Montana sing her heart out while drowning out the cars, trains, construction and obnoxious noise. How did the 501s do? Well, they’re not meant to be noise canceling so I did have to pump up the volume, but not to the point where everyone knows what I’m jamming to. So I’ll give it a thumbs up in that respect.
Battery life is excellent at around 11 hours for talk and music playback combined. Switching between calls and your music are a breeze with the touch of one button. As soon as you’re done with that booty call the music starts right back up. At least that’s what happened when using the 5300 XpressMusic. Call quality was decent and most people didn’t realize I was on a headset and everything on my end was clear when the 5300 was nearby. It also supports voice dialing and auto-redial if your phone has any or all of these functions.
Overall, the BH-501 Bluetooth headset from Nokia is a fairly decent device and does everything it claims it does. Sound quality is decent for both music and voice, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Fit is a different story so be sure you try them out before buying. They’re also fairly inexpensive and can be found for as low as $55.